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Morning Musings: Feb. 16

by Corey Masisak
Here's a look at some of the chatter around the NHL as we countdown to the 2011 NHL Trade Deadline. We'll try to do this most mornings between now and the deadline.


If the Bruins did indeed have a puck-moving defenseman and a veteran center on their list of needs, then GM Peter Chiarelli might be almost done shopping. He acquired the center yesterday, picking up Chris Kelly for a second-round pick. There were also numerous reports about him being in talks with Toronto GM Brian Burke about Tomas Kaberle. Burke told a Boston radio station that he and Chiarelli are talking but didn't name players involved.

Kaberle has a no-trade clause, but his comments to reporters after the Leafs' win against Boston last night implied he'd waive it for a move to Beantown.

"I would think so," Kaberle said when asked if Boston was a good place to be if he does get traded. "Obviously they have a pretty good team, good goaltenders. I've played a lot of games against them and it is always tough and they're always tough to beat. We'll see what is going to happen."

Chiarelli says his management staff is tracking nine trade targets on defense. Kevin Paul DuPont of the Boston Globe believes that Kaberle is one, with Atlanta's Ron Hainsey and Zach Bogosian and Ottawa's Chris Philips also on the list. Kaberle makes a lot of sense for the Bruins, who are looking for an offensive-minded guy who can help the power play.

The compensation for Kaberle could be interesting. Paul Dupont writes a deal is "likely to include Boston’s own first-round pick in this year’s draft." There is little chance Toronto's first-rounder from the Phil Kessel deal would be involved, but Burke might not be willing to settle for a late first-round pick.

Boston still has a No. 2 in the 2011 draft, courtest of a trade with Minnesota for Chuck Kobasew two years ago. The Bruins, as detailed on this blog, are flush with high-end prospects.

Kelly cost the Bruins their own No. 2 pick in the upcoming draft. It was a high price to pay for a No. 3 center, but the Bruins have the assets and Kelly brings some much-needed depth and playoff experience. While Boston is loaded with talent at the position, Fluto Shinzawa points out why it was an area of need.

"Even before [Marc] Savard suffered his latest concussion, the Bruins had been dissatisfied with their performance up the middle," Shinzawa writes. "Bergeron has been carrying the offense between Brad Marchand and Mark Recchi. Gregory Campbell has filled the club’s needs on the fourth line. But Savard hadn’t found his offensive tempo before his injury. [David] Krejci has been inconsistent all season. For the most part, [Tyler] Seguin has looked every bit the teenager he is. The team gave Blake Wheeler several looks at center, but he hasn’t given them the presence they’re seeking."

"In Kelly, the Bruins now have a veteran they’ll need if they are serious about a deep postseason run."


The Hurricanes have shrugged off a slow start in the first half of the season to chase down Atlanta for the eighth spot on the Eastern Conference. Still, Carolina has to hold off both the Thrashers and the surging Buffalo Sabres, who are two points back and have two games in hand on the Hurricanes, if the Canes are going to return to the postseason after missing out last year.

Chip Alexander of the Raleigh News & Observer talked to team owner Peter Karmonos about the trade deadline. Karmonos told Alexander that GM Jim Rutherford has been authorized to add payroll if needed to help the club make the playoffs.

"Jim can do whatever he feels he needs to do to improve the team," Karmanos said. "We've worked together for 25 years, and he knows how I feel. Right now, the question would be who would you replace in our lineup? Another is, who's available? We're trying to figure all that out."

The Hurricanes have two established stars in Eric Staal and Cam Ward, and a host of young players moving into greater roles behind them. Carolina could probably use a veteran at both forward and defense to bolster the team's depth as crunch time nears. Rutherford has a track record of being willing to deal at this time of year, so don't be surprised to see the Hurricanes make an addition (or two) in the next two weeks.


Yesterday it was the Colorado Avalanche as the "team in crisis" in the Western Conference. Today, it is the Dallas Stars. Dallas was one of the NHL's top stories of the season for a couple of months, forging a lead in the Pacific Division and challenging for the No. 2 seed in the West. Now, the Stars are without Brad Richards and have lost 8 of their past 10 games -- including a 4-1 defeat at last-place Edmonton last night.

"They didn’t lack in want-to, they lacked in composure," writes Mike Heika of the Dallas Morning News. "They were overwhelmed by the pressure of the situation. Needing points to stay in the playoff race, needing positive momentum heading into death trap games in Calgary and Vancouver, the Stars simply fell apart."

Dallas is now perilously close to being engulfed by the swarm of tightly-knit teams behind them. The Stars sit fifth in the West, which is really a four-way tie for the Nos. 4-7 spots. Eighth-place Calgary is two points back, and a postseason-less Spring is three points away.

For much of the first half of this season, Richards was the UFA trade bait rumor du jour. When Dallas established itself as a contender in the West, that speculation went away. If the Stars keep losing, expect it to return.

"If the Dallas Stars stay in free-fall they have to trade their UFA Brad Richards if his blow to head vs Jackets is minor, don't they?" writes Edmonton Journal's Jim Matheson on Twitter.

Richards could very well become the Jay Bouwmeester of this year's trade deadline. Florida faced the "should they or shouldn't they" trade Bouwmeester decision two seasons ago, and the Stars as an organization face similar pros and cons about trading Richards.

Dallas is an organization that could greatly benefit from a playoff run, both in galvanizing the fan base and the financial windfall that comes from it. Florida desperately needed to make the playoffs, so the Panthers held on to Bouwmeester. Will the Stars do the same, or will they look to add assets for the future? Richards would be the best player on the market -- and there are several contenders who are almost certain to get into a bidding war for his services.
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